VINTON–The bench press is known as the king of chest exercises. Bench press is one of three lifts in the sport of power lifting, which also includes squats and deadlifts. It’s basically a weight-training exercise in which a person lies on a bench and pushes a barbell upwards with both hands from chest level until the arms are straight, then lowers it.
The Lancerlot Sports Complex in Vinton will be the scene of a Bench Press Competition on Saturday, March 2. Registrations are now being accepted for the event.
Robin Hartman, an instructor and personal trainer at the Lancerlot; Calvin Barrow Jr., a Lancerlot member; and McDonald’s, are sponsoring the event for the second consecutive year. In the future, they hope to hold the competition twice yearly.
The only other bench press competition in the region is at Virginia Tech, which will hold its 12th annual contest on February 23. In 2012 Robin Hartman won first place in her division (140 lbs. and above) at the Tech competition, while Calvin Barrow placed third in his (165-198 pounds).
“We plan to keep the Lancerlot competition going and keep it growing,” said Hartman. “The guys here would like to have a power lifting meet with squats, dead lifts, and bench press. We want to bring in people from other local gyms, to have fun and camaraderie, to attract new members, and to compete.”
The local event accepts male and female competitors of all ages. Each participant will perform three lifts. So far, participants who have registered range in age from high school students to the middle-aged.
There are several weight classes in the competition. “Open” divisions permit athletes to wear bench press shirts which offer muscle support; “raw” classes do not.
Women may compete in “open” 122 pounds and under, open 122-140 pounds, and open 140 pounds and above.
Men are divided into “raw” 165 pounds and under, 165-198 pounds, and198 pounds and above; and “open” 148 pounds and below; 148-165 pounds, 165-181 pounds, 181-198 pounds, 198-220 pounds, and 220 pounds and above.
The men may combine raw and open events, but still are restricted to three lifts total.
The current world record for bench press is 715 pounds set by Scot Mendelson in 2005, doing “raw” bench press; and 1075 pounds for Ryan Kennelly set in 2008, performing with the aid of a bench press shirt.
Bench pressing is popular because it involves the biggest muscle groups and maximum lifts. Surprisingly all bench pressers don’t have massive chests and overdeveloped muscles. In fact, people who are shorter and have shorter arms may have an advantage in bench pressing.
At the March 2 event, competitors will check in and weigh in by 9:45 a.m. There will be time to warm-up and socialize, followed by a rules meeting to explain proper procedures. Then the competition will get underway. Each individual gets three lifts, which must increase in weight each time. Lifters must demonstrate control of the weight in each lift.
First, second, and third place medals will be awarded in each weight class with a trophy for the overall winner in the men’s and the women’s divisions.
The bench press competition at Lancerlot was the brain child of Hartman, whose goal is promoting health and fitness in general and the benefits of the Lancerlot in particular in the Vinton community. She has worked at the Lancerlot for about nine years at the front desk, as an instructor, and now as a personal trainer.
Hartman has been assisted by Kathleen Sink, another Lancerlot instructor, in promoting the event, gaining sponsors, and getting donations for the competition. They have a host of door prizes, in addition to the T-shirts and goody bags each entrant receives.
The Lancerlot Sports Complex has been in business in Vinton since 1985, with several renovations to date. They offer a strength training center, two indoor tracks, a cycling center with over 25 bikes, and indoor tennis, basketball, soccer, and racquetball courts.
There is also an Olympic-sized indoor heated pool, an outdoor pool and Kiddie pool, three aerobic studios, specialized cardiovascular equipment with TV’s, saunas, whirlpools, and a steam room.
They offer a myriad of classes six days a week for all ages and ability levels, including swimming lessons and therapeutic water aerobics. The list is seemingly endless.
Hartman, Lancerlot Director Roy Jackson, and owners Henry and Sarah Brabham are considering powerlifting clinics to teach proper form and procedures for the sport.
Lancerlot has an onsite nursery, afterschool and summer camps for children, personal trainers, and massage and physical therapy. There are year-round and summer swim teams, locker rooms, and game rooms. There are even banquet facilities which can be rented by non-members. Day passes for non-members are available for $10 to try out the facilities.
“While there are exercise centers where you may pay $10 a month, they don’t have the facilities that the Lancerlot does,” said Hartman.
Lancerlot is open seven days a week, Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.; on Saturdays from 8-7, and on Sundays from 8-6.
Registration for the Bench Press Competition will continue through 9:30 a.m. on the morning of the event. The competition itself begins at 10:00. The cost is $20.00. Spectators are welcome free of charge. Food will be available on site.
Anyone who is interested in participating in the bench press competition or who would like more information about Lancerlot may call (540-981-0205), email (email@example.com) or go by the Lancerlot, which is located on Vinyard Road, behind Lake Drive Plaza in Vinton.